Shadhika Shadhika


My mother believed I could be anything and I believe that for my children and I hope they will believe that for their children. Investing in young girls can change the world.

When She Leads: Kavita Jain

By Shadhika Staff

July 21, 2021

Reading Time: 6 minutes

This interview is part of our When She Leads: Donor Highlights collection. Learn more.

Kavita Jain is a member of Shadhika’s Scholarship Donor Circle. She was interviewed by Program Officer, Kendra Nicolai. If you would like to become a scholarship donor, you can do so here.

Hi Kavita. Can you introduce yourself and tell us how you first got connected to Shadhika?

My name is Kavita, I live in Vienna, Virgina and I am from the Ambala Cantt State of Haryana, India. It is pretty interesting how I got connected with Shadhika. My husband retired and we had been thinking about how we would like to contribute and to what cause in India. Neither of us were sure who to support.

One afternoon, I was walking with one of my friends, who was a cousin of Aruna’s, a board member of Shadhika at the time. Through my cousin, I was introduced to Aruna and got to know Shadhika and what you are doing in India. She recommended me to go to Shadhika’s website. My husband and I read about Shadhika and we really liked it. I then got connected to Shadhika staff and am now part of the Scholarship Donor Circle.

I believe it is important to support young girls in India and I am happy to be a Shadhika supporter.

Kavita and her husband Raj.

How does the mission resonate with you?

I really like Shadhika’s mission, especially the tagline, “When she leads, change follows.”

I believe if you educate young girls who don’t have too much access to education or resources and who struggle with their socioeconomic background and poverty – you end up changing not only the girl but the whole community. If a girl feels empowered, she is changed and can create change.                

Education is big for me. I grew up in India in the 60’s and education wasn’t equal for girls. A girl’s education was a taboo. My father faced challenges in educating us, with the community placing a taboo on him because he allowed myself and my siblings to become educated. Although my father believed I should go to college, he only wanted me to go to an all-girls college. I had to negotiate.  I had my brother take me to get enrolled at the college of my choice. My father wasn’t happy with me at the time. I wanted to pursue Mathematics and there was not a good available option at the all-girls college where the level of education was not of high quality.

I enrolled in the Graduate Program in Mathematics at Punjab University, where I was 1 of only 3 girls in a class of 50 boys. This was one reason my father did not want me to go to this college. I stayed focused, my mother supported me and stood by me the entire time. I won a gold medal and was ranked #1 in the whole university. My father finally understood my choice and was happy and proud that I stood by my decision.

These were some of the challenges I faced growing up. I had to fight through some of these biases on my own level – so when I think about Shadhika’s mission – it is personal to me. I am where I am thanks to my education. When you pursue education, keep proper goals, and stay focused, the change will come.

When you educate girls, change comes. This has a lot of meaning to me personally.

Why do you think it is important to invest in young women as changemakers?

I think it’s important to invest in young girls. They [are] the nucleus of their family life. Once they understand the importance of education in their own life, they will encourage their own children to pursue their education. They can raise the standards in their own life. They can break the cycle of poverty, end childhood marriages, stop abuses from their partners; all by pursuing education. Education will bring change into every aspect of their lives.

My mother invested in me. She provided me a [positive] atmosphere in the house to study and made sure I stayed busy with extra hobbies like sewing, embroidery, and painting. She even got me a private tutor to learn classical     Indian dancing. She has supported me through all my difficult times and decisions. She is my role model. I followed the same path with my own children as they are growing up in the U.S.A. I did not realize that my mother made such an impression on me until I had my own children and I treat them as she treated me.

My mother believed I could be anything and I believe that for my children and I hope they will believe that for their children. Investing in young girls can change the world.

What would you tell prospective donors about Shadhika and your experience as a donor? 

My experience has been very positive as a donor for Shadhika. They follow through [on the] commitments [they make]. [Shadhika selects] scholars wisely and makes sure the girls have what they need to succeed. As a donor it is nice to have a personal connection and aligned vision. I believe girls’ education is so important. So in my mind, Shadhika is doing the hard work and making sure these girls [get] education [they seek].

During the COVID-19 situation, schools were closed and there was low access to virtual learning. Yet Shadhika still kept things going and tried to do the best they could. Shadhika improvised with [existing] resources to help the girls which was impressive. Those were tough times for us all – still tough times for our family in India.

If you believe in investing in girls, Shadhika is a great place to become a donor.

Learn more about how to become a Scholarship Donor and Shadhika’s other donor circles here.

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